Friday’s NCAAB tournament betting cheat sheet

 

Duke has reached the regional final only twice since 2004, winning the national championship in 2010 and losing in the Elite 8 to Louisville in 2013.

UCLA Bruins vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (-8.5, 145.5)

The Bruins have won six of their last seven games with the only defeat in that stretch coming in a tight setback against Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. Their first two wins in the Big Dance have proven that UCLA can win with defense (60-59 versus SMU) and with offense (92-75 against UAB), while Bryce Alford has been a constant in both games, averaging 24.5 points on 12-of-16 3-point shooting. “People are going to say whatever they want,” said Alford, who averages 15.6 points, second on the team to Norman Powell (16.4). “But when you look back on it, we’ve been in the Sweet 16 last year, and we’re there again this year. That doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to win big games to do that.”

The Bulldogs are the nation’s best shooting team (52.4 percent) and also rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring (79.1, 10th) and assists (16.5, sixth). “It’s without a doubt the best offensive team I’ve ever been associated with,” said coach Mark Few, whose team is led in scoring by Wiltjer (17.1 points) and Kevin Pangos (11.8). “The firepower, the versatility, the ability to share the ball.” Wiltjer is 12-of-17 from 3-point range in his last four games, while Pangos is 12-of-22 from the arc during that span.

LINE HISTORY: Books opened Gonzaga at anywhere form -9.5 to -8.

CHEERLEADER WAR:

TRENDS:

* Over is 5-0 in Bulldogs last five overall.
* Bruins are 1-7 ATS in their last eight vs. West Coast.
* Over is 9-4 in Bruins last 13 NCAA Tournament games.


North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Louisville Cardinals (-3, 130)

The Wolfpack received clutch play from two young forwards in the upset of Villanova, getting double-doubles from freshman Abdul-Malik Abu (13 points, 12 rebounds) and sophomore Lennard Freeman (11 points, 12 rebounds), more than doubling their season averages in each category. “They were relentless rebounding the basketball; that was the difference for us offensively,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried told The News & Observer. Anthony Barber (12.3 points, 3.7 assists), who Pitino credited for “dominating the game” after scoring 21 points in the first meeting, is averaging 15.8 points over his last 13 contests after failing to reach 16 in all but three of his first 21 games.

Freshman Quentin Snider (3.8 points) has replaced suspended senior guard Chris Jones in the starting lineup and averaged 13 points and 4.5 rebounds during the Cardinals’ two NCAA Tournament wins. “I don’t know what we expected from Quentin Snider; we didn’t expect this, to be honest with you. He doesn’t get nervous at all, he’s a cool customer … and he’s gotten a lot better defensively,” Pitino said after the Northern Iowa victory. Leading scorers Terry Rozier (17.2 points) and Montrezl Harrell (15.4) were held to seven points apiece on Feb. 14 – the only game this season in which both players were held to single figures.

LINE HISTORY: Books opened Louisville either -2 or -2.5.

CHEERLEADER WAR:

TRENDS:

* Wolfpack are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
* Cardinals are 2-6 ATS in their last eight vs. Atlantic Coast.
* Under is 10-3-1 in Cardinals last 14 overall.

Utah Utes vs. Duke Blue Devils (-5.5, 133.5)

The Utes got past Georgetown 75-64 their last time out as four players scored in double figures, led by gritty point guard Brandon Taylor, who went 4-of-8 from 3-point range en route to 14 points. “He can knock it down. He is really good,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose other compliments included “Wright is one of the top guards in the country” and Poeltl “is a really good player and he is going to be a big-time pro.” Dakarai Tucker has given Utah a boost off the bench in this event, totaling 20 points on 60 percent shooting in the last two rounds.

The Blue Devils are 14-1 in their last 15 games and have held five of their last seven opponents below 57 points, although their overall defensive ranking still sits at 131st nationally. Freshman wing Justise Winslow, a Houston native, has been overshadowed by Okafor all season, although his numbers in this tournament – 9.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks – have provided a huge boost. “It’s big,” Cook told reporters after Winslow’s terrific all-around effort in the round of 32 win against San Diego State. “I know (Winslow)’s going to see all his family – all his family is going to be there. It’s just great to move onto the next round. I know one of his goals was to get to a Final Four, so we got (to Houston), where we can complete it.”

LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Blue Devils as 5-point favorites.

CHEERLEADER WAR:



TRENDS:

* Under is 4-0 in Blue Devils last four overall.
* Blue Devils are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Utes are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games.


Michigan State Spartans vs. Oklahoma Sooners (+2, 134.5)

The Spartans, who have won 10 of their last 13 games with two of the losses coming against No. 1 West seed Wisconsin, held Georgia and Virginia to 31.6 percent shooting from the field and 19.4 percent from 3-point range. Branden Dawson, a 6-6 senior swingman, is averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the tournament while senior guard and leading scorer Travis Trice (15 points per game) scored 23 versus Virginia and 15 against Georgia. Michigan State, which has led for more than 76 minutes in its two NCAA games, must improve from the free-throw line as it has converted 31-of-52 in the tournament.

Lon Kruger has utilized the same starting lineup in every game this season with junior guard Buddy Hield – the Big 12 Player of the Year – leading the way at 17.3 points per game after scoring 15 in each of the Sooners’ two NCAA contests. The Sooners also possess a pair of threats down low in senior forward TaShawn Thomas (11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds) and junior forward Ryan Spangler (9.9, 8.2), who grabbed 23 boards in the last two contests. Oklahoma, which is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009, has 423 assists against 412 turnovers in 34 games – compared to 607 and 410 in 36 contests for Michigan State.

LINE HISTORY: The Sooners opened anywhere from 1-point faves to +2.5.

CHEERLEADER WAR:



TRENDS:

* Spartans are 7-1 ATS in their last eight non-conference games.
* Sooners are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
* Under is 7-1 in Sooners last eight neutral site games.


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